The Village of Hommlet has grown up around a crossroads in a woodland. Once far from any important activity, it became embroiled in the struggle between gods and demons when the Temple of Elemental Evil arose but a few leagues away. Luckily of its inhabitants, the Temple and its evil hordes were destroyed a decade ago, but Hommlet still suffers from incursions of bandits and strange monsters.
This adventure contains a map of the village and lands around, a large scale map of the inn, church, trading post, and guard tower (main floor, upper rooms and cellars), an informational key regarding the inhabitants, and a map and exploration key for a destroyed moat house, a former outpost of the Temple of Elemental Evil. The whole provides a complete, ready-to-play scenario, and is a lead-in to T1-4: The Temple of Elemental Evil.
T1: "The Village of Hommlet" (1979), by Gary Gygax, was released in 1979 and was probably TSR's ninth adventure. It was released at GenCon XII (1979) alongside S2: "White Plume Mountain" (1979). As with other early adventures, "Hommlet" was originally published with a monochrome cover - here, orange. It was later reprinted (1981) with the full-color cover that had become standard for TSR a few years later.
Adventure Origins. "The Village of Hommlet" was derived directly from Gary Gygax's AD&D house campaign. He started running "The Temple of Elemental Evil" after giving his classic Castle Greyhawk campaign entirely over to his co-GM, Rob Kuntz. At the time, Gygax was purposefully merging his profession with his advocation - creating a new campaign to test out ideas about outdoor terrain and random dungeons that he later planned to publish.
A Secret Cover. The cover for Basic D&D supplement AC5: Player Character Record Sheets (1984) was originally produced by Clyde Caldwell for an adventure he was told was called "The Moathouse." It depicts locations 1 and 2 from the upper level of the Moathouse in Hommlet, full of giant frogs and a rotting drawbridge.
A Few Firsts. "Village of Hommlet" was the first TSR adventure to depict an urban locale: Hommlet takes up almost three-quarters of the module. Judges Guild had begun depicting City-State of the Invincible Overlord (1976+) building by building a few years earlier, but this was a first for the actual producers of D&D. "Hommlet" garnered lots of acclaim, and this was probably why: It started to depict a world wider than just subterranean adventure locales, and it was as much about roleplaying as fighting.
Thanks to the village of Hommlet, this adventure also marks TSR's first use of the "home base + adventure" trope, which Gygax would use to best effect in B2: "Keep on the Borderlands" (1979). Most other adventures using this formula would use a town, just like Gygax did, whether it be Orlane, Restenford, or some other facsimile.
T1 was also Gygax's first low-level adventure, for 1st-level characters. Despite that, the adventure was not truly "introductory": Players and GMs looking for advice on how to play D&D would instead need to have sought - not unironically - for B1: "In Search of Adventure" (1978), published late the previous year.
Expanding Greyhawk. The depiction of Hommlet marks the first in-depth description of any part of the world of Greyhawk. It also offers up the first serious depiction of a Greyhawk god: St. Cuthbert, who has a detailed church in Hommlet. Cuthbert had been mentioned a few times previously, in Eldritch Wizardry (1976) and as "St. Cuthburt" in The Dragon #2 (August 19776).
The Adventure Continues. Though T1 offers a nice introductory dungeon, it's also a big tease for the big dungeon, the Temple of Elemental Evil, which should have been adventure T2. Gygax started talking about T2 being delayed as early as The Dragon #35 (March 1980). In fact, it would take another five years for the adventure to actually appear! As such, it was a matched pair with Q1: "Queen of the Demonweb Pits" (1981), the module intended to complete the DGQ series (though that one only got delayed for two years).
Future History. Hommlet was eventually rereleased as part of the "mega-module" T1-4: The Temple of Elemental Evil (1985). It was much later revised not once, but twice for 4e, first for sanctioned RPGA play (without the village!) as Return to the Moathouse (2008), by Mike Mearls, then as an exclusive reward for RPGA members as The Village of Hommlet (2009), by Andy Collins.
About the Creators. Though Gygax would create a few more adventures in 1979 and 1980, "Hommlet" marked the beginning of the end of his time as TSR's (almost) sole creator of adventures.
About the Product Historian
This history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.